(HealthDay News) — High doses of statins reduce gum inflammation in heart disease patients, according to a study published online Sept. 25 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Sharath Subramanian, M.D., from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues randomized 83 adults with risk factors or with established atherosclerosis who were not taking high-dose statins to atorvastatin at either 80 mg or 10 mg. Fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography/computed tomography was used to evaluate participants at baseline and four and 12 weeks. Additionally, arterial and periodontal tracer activity was assessed, and contrast-enhanced computed tomography images were used to evaluate periodontal bone loss.

Of the 59 participants with periodontal images, the researchers found that, at baseline, areas of severe periodontal disease had a higher target-to-background ratio compared to areas without severe periodontal disease (P = 0.004). There was a significant reduction in periodontal inflammation after 12 weeks in patients randomized to atorvastatin 80 versus 10 mg (P = 0.04). In patients with higher periodontal inflammation at baseline (P = 0.01) and in patients with severe bone loss at baseline (P = 0.03) there were greater between-group differences. Changes in periodontal inflammation also significantly correlated with changes in carotid inflammation (P < 0.001).

“High-dose atorvastatin reduces periodontal inflammation, suggesting a newly recognized effect of statins,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to Merck, which funded the study.

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